NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is calling the proposed Music City Center a "stimulus" for the city and its ailing construction industry.
The mayor said Wednesday he believes the project could recover about half of the 5,200-area jobs lost in the construction industry during the past year.
"We are down about 12% in terms of construction jobs and building the convention center adds back about half those jobs once that process begins and while its being built," he said prior to a speech before a local trade association of builders and contractors.
During the past year, many projects, especially home building, have stopped mid-construction when the banks slowed lending to developers.
"It was tough last year, I think its going to be tough next year," said Dan Brodbeck, who heads American Constructors.
Barry Oakley owns a concrete company and used to have about 100 workers. He now has about 30.
Both builders, however, are relatively optimistic because they see signs of a turnaround.
Aside from the convention center proposal, Brodbent said designers and engineers are getting more job requests and when their business picks up, so eventually does construction.
Dan Deal's family owns an excavating company and said he's beginning to see things pick up.
"I got a lot of jobs to bid on now, it's more than a year ago, more than six months ago," he said prior to listening to the mayor.
The nearly $1 billion convention center project, which includes at 1,000-room hotel, is expected to bring millions in tourist dollars to the city of Nashville.